Water Quality Assessments

Look here for reports on the condition of watersheds in Massachusetts.

Water Quality Assessment Reports are detailed reports on the ecological ("fishable/swimmable") condition of Massachusetts watersheds. MassDEP's Watershed Planning Program (WPP) conducts monitoring and assessment activities on a rotating cycle and issues reports based on this research. Beginning in 2005, the WPP transitioned to a new reporting model; newer reports appear on our Water Quality Technical Memoranda page.

Lake Watershed Survey Guide

These documents provide a framework for MassDEP's monitoring and assessment efforts.

The Eutrophication and Aquatic Plant Management Generic Environmental Impact Report provides guidance on identifying invasive species and other aquatic-nuisance issues.

Data collection by volunteers is a critical element of the monitoring program.

Additional Resources

Water Quality at DCR State Beaches

  • Final Beach Water Quality Report
    The complete report to the Senate and the House of Representatives on the water quality at beaches under the care and control of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2008-2012.
  • Final Beach Water Quality Report
    Main body of the report on the water quality at beaches under the care and control of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2008-2012.  
  • Appendices to Beach Report
    Appendices to the Beaches Water Quality Report, 2008-2012. 

Water Quality Assessment Reports Methodology

The Massachusetts Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology (CALM) Guidance Manual for the 2016 reporting cycle includes a brief summary of the Massachusetts Surface Water Quality Standards (SWQS) that define the goals for water quality in the state.

Significant changes from the previous CALM guidance (2012) include the following:  Inclusion of external data submittal guidance, evaluation methods for the deployed probe long-term continuous monitoring data sets and refinement of cold water temperature and DO guidance, screening methodology to determine whether or not conditions are natural (vs. anthropogenic), more detailed screening guidelines to make nutrient enrichment decisions, updated evaluation methods for toxic pollutants (e.g., addition of chloride), and presumptive impairments for the recreational uses in waters receiving CSO discharges that do not have a variance in place in the SWQS.

Additional Resources

Water Quality Assessment Reports

Water Quality Assessment Reports, Blackstone through Islands Watersheds

Water Quality Assessment Reports, Merrimack through Weymouth & Weir Watersheds


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